An employee of a steel erection firm has been handed a suspended jail sentence and forced to pay nearly £3500 after he was caught on camera balanced precariously on scaffold tubes 27m in the air.

A member of the public passed the photograph to the HSE after spotting David Mullholland hammering steel beams into place without any safety equipment during the refurbishment of the King Street townhouse in Manchester’s city centre.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that HSE inspectors arrived at the site on Booth Street, which is now a hotel, on a rainy 21 January 2015 to find the 24 year old on the roof.

Inspectors found that a Mullholland had been given a tower scaffold to enable him to complete the job. There was also a full time scaffolder ready to build scaffolding for any contractors on site.

Mullholland later said that he did not realise how high he was.

The HSE said that his actions not only posed a risk to his own safety, but he could have harmed passersby if he dropped a tool.


It is the second time that a member of the public’s photograph of unsafe work at height on the hotel refurbishment has led to a prosecution.

Two months after Mullholland was spotted, an office worker snapped two roofing company directors balanced on a rooftop beam. The directors and their company were fined a total of £16,500 earlier in December.

Mullholland, of Walton le Dale near Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and fined £1400. He was ordered to pay costs of £2939.


HSE inspector Matt Greenly said: “This case dealt with a serious work at height risk which could have led to a fatal incident. David Mullholland failed in his duty to protect his own safety while at work and also placed others at risk had he dropped any tool from the position he was seen in, some 27 metres above street level. During the HSE’s investigation he said that he did not appreciate how high he was.